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Franklin company growing in the high-tech kiosk space

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 27. 2018 6:01PM
James Jameson, production manager at Advanced Kiosks, is framed by a kiosk cabinet while he assembles a component on Friday at the company's Franklin headquarters. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

FRANKLIN -- Students at the University of North Dakota can print term papers on it.

Worshipers at a Kentucky church can sign in kids for child care.

And relatives can find where loved ones are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

All use kiosks designed and assembled at Advanced Kiosks inside the former Stevens Mill, where assembling high-tech kiosks has replaced textile making.

Advanced Kiosk designs a variety of free-standing kiosks that can be customized to serve a variety of functions. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

The kiosks aren't designed for businesses to replace employees with machines, according to company officials.

"It allows you to repurpose your staff resources," Marketing Manager Margo Bowie said Friday.

Business is so good that the company, which has 15 employees, has outgrown its 6,000 square feet and is scouting a bigger location in the Concord area that will offer 8,000 to 10,000 square feet. A move could come in the next three to six months.

Advanced Kiosks produces about 350 kiosks a year with government contracts accounting for 22 percent of overall revenues. Kiosks can cost $5,000 or approach $15,000.

Clients include Fidelity Investments and Santa's Village in Jefferson.

The company's latest offering, Merchant Max, is aimed at capturing a bite of the fast-food market. "Studies show it increases sales because it's easy to upsell" say, french fries, said Travis Morin, marketing editor at Advanced Kiosks.

Angel Wong, a production assistant installs wiring in a kiosk at Advanced Kiosks now headquartered in the former J.P. Stevens Woolen Mill in Franklin. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

Food and beverage kiosks account for 35 percent of all kiosks and represent the largest sector, according to the Kiosk and Retail Report.

The U.S. kiosk market totaled nearly $717 million in 2016 compared to $533 million in 2013.

Merchant Max features a 32-inch vertical touch screen - and already is gaining fans.

A Georgia company offering home remodeling vendor services will roll out 200 units over the next year, Bowie said.

Those machines will be installed in unidentified national home improvement stores across the country, including New Hampshire, said Jarod Harriman, chief business development officer at Installation Made Easy.

"The sole goal of the kiosks is to gather consumer interest on home improvement products or projects that consumers are interested in," Harriman said.

About 65 kiosks of a different Advanced Kiosks model are deployed to help people assess their mental health by answering questions anonymously.

"Kiosks act like a billboard for mental health," said Hope Rochefort, program manager for the MindKare Kiosk Program, which is part of Screening for Mental Health, a non-profit based in Wellesley Hills, Mass., that provides educational screening programs for certain mental health conditions. 

The program uses 75 kiosks, including 65 from Advanced Kiosks, that are stationed at places such as Framingham State University, or are mobile, such as visiting a senior center.

The Franklin company's machines are sturdy, durable, lightweight and "they're easy to move around," Rochefort said.

The world is full of technology.

"People are comfortable with screens ... especially if they can control what's on it," Bowie said.

mcousineau@unionleader.com

A back-lit keyboard is among the features available on Advanced Kiosks' machines. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)


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